The story: When in New York, I stayed with my good friend Spencer (childhood friend) in Queens. Another of my good childhood friends (Aditiya) mentioned that before I left New York, I had to check out Kane’s diner— a 24-hour diner which they frequently visited.
I didn’t expect to go there– but one of the days when I was walking to the subway, I spotted it. I stepped in, checked the Yelp reviews, and saw that their Steak and Eggs were quite popular. I ordered some.
I also started talking with the waiter–who was extremely friendly. We connected well, and he gave me the best steak & eggs I have ever had (at a reasonable price).
I then remembered my new Ricoh GRD V in my bag, and my GoPro that I brought to do some POV videos during my travels. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to ask him to take some photos.
At first, I hesitated a bit– but I thought to myself: “I will regret it if I don’t at least ask him to take photos.” So I jumped out of my seat, and approached him if I could take shots. He was open to the idea (and so was the owner next to him) so I started to do a mini portrait session inside the diner.
What I wanted to show through this video is the importance of interacting with your subjects, and making them feel comfortable. Like any portrait session, your subject will be tense and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. But the more you move him/her around, chat with them, make them laugh–they will loosen up and open up to you.
In this video, I think in the beginning he was quite stiff–but in the end when I got him laughing and whatnot– he opened up. I think it is the last shot of him hunching over the table which was the strongest shot from the series.
Note that during the session, I take several photos, at different angles. Some with flash and some without flash. Also how I talk to him and make him laugh.
At the end, I also tell him to “loosen up” which I think was a great thing. He jumped around, shrugged his shoulders, and hunched over the table, which abled me to show his power and presence.
Enjoy the video, and hope you find it useful!
Takeaway point: Don’t forget, there is no problem of asking someone to take their portrait. The worst they will say is “no.” The best is that they will say “yes”–and you will be able to connect more on a personal with that other human being, and perhaps even get a decent shot as well!